The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a required test for admissions into law schools and is not something to be taken lightly—the journey to achieving a high score can be a long one. If you are considering going to law school and want to know how much time you should to allocate to studying for the LSAT, you're in the right place.
In this article, we'll help you understand the components of the LSAT and what to expect on the test. You'll also learn some helpful guidelines that will allow you to pick the optimal length of study and give you some LSAT preparation tips that can get you started on your journey.
What to Expect on the LSAT
The law school admissions test, otherwise known as the LSAT, consists of four different sections: reading comprehension, logic games, and two different logical reasoning sections. There is also usually an experimental testing section added into each LSAT administration that could leave you with an extra reading, logic games, or logical reasoning section, though you won't know which one is experimental until after you receive your test scores.
Each of these testing sections is administered in 35 minutes, with the test taking 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. There is a total of 99 to 102 questions on the test, depending on the particular administration, and an available score range of 120 to 180, with 180 being a perfect score.
There is an additional LSAT writing section, but this section does not weigh into your numbered testing score (the one between 120 and 180). However, you should still not slack on this section, as law school can still see it when you send your LSAT score to them. You can read more about the LSAT writing component here.
Every time you take the LSAT, you will need to pay a testing fee of around $200, though fee waivers are available in some circumstances. This testing fee includes one free score report and is due upon the registration deadline, which is typically one month before the actual LSAT test date.
The LSAT is administered approximately 7 times a year, with test dates starting in January and the last usually given in November. Each test taker can only take the LSAT 5 times a year, with a total of 7 allowed attempts in a lifetime.
Deciding on a Length of Study
Once you understand what to expect on the LSAT, you can start crafting your study schedule and get a sense of how long you will need to study for the test. Below, we've included some additional important factors you will need to consider when deciding on study length.
Average Recommended Study Time
Most LSAT experts recommend around 3 months of full times study, or around 150 to 300 hours; this breaks down to approximately 12 to 25 hours a week of studying every week. This is the study plan that suits most people and is the most customizable depending on your individual obligations.
You can find detailed study plans online through various test preparation websites, but in general, your 3 month study plan should include a basic overview of all of the test components and then target studying on the issues that you need to most help with. Near the end of the 3-month period, you should regularly be drilling practice tests and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses in preparation for test day.
Study Time Available Per Day
Another very important factor in your chosen study length is how much time you have available per day or per week. You may want to try and complete 300 hours of studying in 3 months, but sometimes that doesn't work out, depending on your life circumstances.
Evaluate how much time you can realistically put into studying the LSAT per week. From there, determine how many weeks it will take you to reach both the minimum 150 hours studying suggested and the maximum of 300 hours.
After you have a good idea of how many weeks it will take you to study, you can determine your overall study length and craft a study plan based on your available time.
Target Score Range
Targeting a general score range is a good way to calculate how long it will take you to study for the LSAT. If you are aiming for a higher score, somewhere between 160 and up into the 170s, you will generally need more preparation time than someone who is aiming to receive a score in the 150s. Higher scores also need more focused studying and in-depth analytics of strengths and weaknesses, which can also add to the study length.
In general, if you are aiming to receive a very high score, you should add at least another month of studying onto the recommended 3 months. Additionally, once you are halfway through the 3 months, you may want to reevaluate your studying time and be honest about where you are in your preparation, adding more time as needed.
Intended Law School Admissions Requirements
Some law schools require LSAT scores by certain dates and have very strict admissions cycles. Others have seats that fill up quickly or merit scholarships that are only given to those with higher LSAT scores.
When deciding how long to study for the LSAT, you should check your intended law school's admissions website to give you a good idea of any other factors you need to include into your study length considerations. For instance, if you really want a scholarship from one school, but they only aware scholarships to students with a 160 or higher LSAT score, you will need to factor in how long it will take you to achieve that score in your overall study plan.
LSAT Preparation Tips
These LSAT preparation tips are designed to give you a head start in your studying journey and can help guide you to a successful study plan and high LSAT score.
In-depth studying is one of the most important things you can do if you want to achieve a higher score. After you have become familiar with the test and how to take the LSAT, you should be taking regular practice tests and evaluating your individual strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to focus your studying, bringing up the scores on sections that need the most help, which will result in a higher overall score.
Don't Rush Things
The LSAT is not a test that you will be able to score highly on if you cram or rush studying. It is designed so that an average test taker cannot comfortably complete all the questions, and many questions will require you to retrain your way of thinking in order to score correctly. It is essential that you take your time and fully understand how the LSAT is given and what the test expects of you, otherwise you risk not achieving a high score and slowing down your law school admissions journey.
Stick to a Schedule
Sticking to a schedule is the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to preparing for the LSAT. Once you get in the habit of studying, it will be easier to get started and stay focused during study sessions. Regular studying can keep the LSAT at the forefront of your mind, making it easier to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and improve your score faster.
You will also be able to achieve your desired study time without issue when you stick to a schedule; this is especially important if you only have 3 months to study for the LSAT and no extra time to spare.
Anticipate a Retake
Though it would be fantastic to take the LSAT once and immediately achieve your desired score, that is not what happens a lot of the time. Most students plan to take the LSAT 2 to 3 times in order to receive the highest score they can possibly get. You should aim for one test, giving it the most effort possible, but don't shy away or be discouraged if a retake or two is necessary to help you achieve the best score you can get.
When planning your study and application schedule, you may want to leave an extra month or two before law school applications open, just to give you some extra time in case of retakes.
Use Varied Resources
LSAT preparation can be tricky, so you should try and use a variety of resources to help you achieve your desired score; ways of teaching can differ greatly and it may take you a couple of attempts to find a study resource that clicks with you.
Everything from test preparation courses to private tutors, to workbooks, and YouTube videos can be used to study the LSAT and help you to a high score.
Studying for the LSAT is hard, there's no argument about that. If you know that you have trouble putting aside study time or struggle with certain aspects of the LSAT, be honest with yourself. Craft your study schedule and test preparation courses according to realistic expectations for your available time and studying personality.
You should not try to convince yourself that you will study 15 hours a day in the week leading up to your LSAT test date in order to prepare, as something like this is only setting you up for failure. Try and budget more study time than you think you will need, as this allows you the flexibility to study and for life to occasionally get in the way of your LSAT preparation.
Ample Study Time Makes for High Scores
Deciding how long to study for the LSAT can be a difficult choice, especially if you aren't already familiar with the LSAT when making your study schedule. However, if you take care to look at how much time you have available, the recommended average study times, and your targeted score range, you should be able to craft an LSAT study plan that suits your needs and guides you to your highest score possible.